With Lehigh guard Mackey McKnight doing a nice impersonation of departed All-American C.J. McCollum, Fordham found itself in trouble on Friday night at home. But the Rams answered with stellar all-around play from their own backcourt in an 80-72 victory in New York.
Senior guard Branden Frazier had 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and sophomore backcourt mate Mandell Thomas added 18 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four steals as Fordham had the right stuff late in the game at Rose Hill Gymnasium.
Backcourt play allowed the Rams (2-1) to trump the work of McKnight, who scored a career-high 31 points, hitting 11 of 18 shots from the floor but missing all five of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Lehigh (1-2) led 56-53 with 11 minutes left before Fordham went on a 10-point run to take the lead for good. Thomas started the rally with a 3-pointer and Frazier finished it with a jumper. In between, guard Jon Severe scored three of his 16 points.
Severe, a highly touted freshman who scored 28 points in his college debut in a win over St. Francis, had a rough night, missing all 10 of his shots from beyond the arc.
But Fordham compensated with dominating work on the boards, outrebounding Lehigh 52-35 and collecting 20 offensive boards to just six for the Mountain Hawks. Contributing to the Rams' work inside was sophomore forward Ryan Rhoomes, who had eight points and 12 rebounds.